Comedy high spots and moments of exotic beauty in production retrieve a sometimes ineffective Eddie Cantor vehicle. Subject matter is the hokiest kind of hoke.
Best of the bits has Cantor as the Roman emperor’s food taster trying to stall off the queen’s plot to poison her royal spouse and struggling at the same time with a stubborn attack of hiccoughs. Hilarity of Cantor’s buffoonery lies in the dignity of the stately surroundings of the Roman court and the straight playing of the supporting cast.
Background of imperial Rome is made to order for spectacle, and the producer has made the most of it. There is a long sequence in a swank Roman women’s bath, elaborated and built for pictorial effect to the last extreme. This sequence is the elaborate incidental to one of the song numbers, ‘Keep Young and Beautiful’, which gets a remarkably intricate build-up for the Cantor rendering in blackface.
Cantor is almost constantly on the screen for all of the hour and a half, and it’s practically impossible for any funmaker to sustain top speed that length of time.
David Manners stands out in the cast, one of the few Hollywood actors who can look genuine in Roman toga. His satisfying playing of the leading straight role does a lot to sharpen the comedy angle. Gloria Stuart and Verree Teasdale in the top femme parts make an eyeful, the one blonde and the other brunette.